If you count up and purposefully use that time to understand what you are doing and why you are doing it, you will be far more likely to also work toward making your future dreams a reality.
Are you a count up or a count down person?
I am a count up person. There are several reasons why I am, but I think it all started with Sesame Street. I always liked the Count. I still do, and he always counts up.
So, why does it matter? When you count up, you focus on the present and what is actually occurring. When you count down, you focus on the future and what has yet to happen. When you focus on the present, you also focus on what you are doing. If you think too much about what has yet to occur, you also tend to think too much about what you haven’t done.
When I am at the gym and running on the treadmill, I always monitor my exercise time by counting the time I have spent running not the amount of time that I have left to run. I find that when I count up, my focus is on what I am doing, and, because of that, I feel more accomplished while I am working out. If I were I to concentrate on the time that remains for me to exercise, I would be focused on what I have yet to do and more subject to fatigue and discouragement.
The benefits of counting up rather than down are even more applicable when you think about aging. Can you imagine how depressing it would be if you noted how many years you have left on earth each birthday instead of how many years you have lived? Of course, this question pre-supposes that you know how long you are going to live and none of us know that. This just underscores my point.
As you age, it is natural to become more aware of time, how fast it passes, and especially how much time you have remaining before life’s “big inevitable” occurs. If you spend too much time thinking about the things that you cannot control, such as how fast time goes, then you’ll miss the best part, which is the present. Every moment that occurs and passes is unique and will never occur again. If you miss that moment because you are worried about a moment that may never happen, you’ve lost time that you can never get back and you have nothing to show for it.
Counting up allows you to be much more aware of what is going on around you and it gives you more time to remember what has occurred. Of the three stages of time: the past, the present, and the future; the past and the present are the only two that are real and factual. The future is merely a dream, or a perception and it isn’t promised to anyone.
With that in mind, there is only one way that you can make the future that you dream of a reality and that is by focusing on the present and using your past and current experiences to prepare for that future. Dreams are only inspirational if you can turn them into reality and the only way to do that is to use the moments you are experiencing now and have experienced in the past to prepare to reach that dream.
If you count up and purposefully use that time to understand what you are doing and why you are doing it, you will be far more likely to also work toward making your future dreams a reality. Your mindset will be one of reflection and accomplishment, which are important cornerstones to future success.
A key part of decision making is to make decisions based on what you can do and to emphasize the actions that you control. Virtually every major decision you make will have to consider, at least in part, what someone else is going to do or how they will react. There will undoubtedly be variables and conditions that are beyond your control.
Your job, in making consistently good decisions, is not to predict the future or be responsible for what others are going to do or not do. Your job is to be responsible for your own actions and be prepared for whatever the actions are of others or the conditions that will arise that will ultimately influence your plan or objective. If you do that, you will also make the most out of today.
So, back to the Count for a moment. For me, he is my earliest memory of counting. Now, it has been a long time since I watched Sesame Street, but I remember that whenever he was faced with a problem or a question, he always found the answer by counting and he never did so by counting down. He knew that the answer to his question was to count up until he figured it out.
In fact, I think it was the Count who said, “Count Up, ha, ha, ha, and leave the countdowns for New Year’s Eve.”
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.